Responding

ESSAY WRITING:  HOW TO USE  [   ]  WHEN QUOTING

Your essays should predominantly be written in the present tense – is, shows, explores ideas about, purpose is to….

However, QUOTATIONS don’t always fit smoothly in our essays when a novel or article is written in the PAST tense.

That’s when these little guys [  ] come in really handy.  They tell a marker that you have CHANGED or ADDED something in the quotation.

EXAMPLE 1: GETTING THE TENSE CONSISTENT

In the opening of his dystopian novel, Orwell states that “it [is] a bright cold day in April, and the clocks [are] striking thirteen” as a way of signposting that all is not normal in this futuristic London.

The actual quote is “It was a bright cold day….the clocks were striking…”

My marker can see  [  ]  that for the purposes of grammatical correctness, I have amended the tense.

This tells them - I know how to use verb tense and punctuation properly.  Reward me!  😊

EXAMPLE 2:  PROVIDING SOME NECESSARY INFORMATION

Orwell shows how serious the surveillance in Airstrip One is when he says “they [thought police] watched everybody all the time”.

It may not be clear to a marker who “they” are – so I provide the context for my marker using the square brackets.  I need my marker to be able to follow my argument

AND THAT’S IT.  TOO EASY!  Be careful though – you can’t use [    ]  to change the writer’s meaning to suit yourself.  And don’t use these ones (  )  -  that would be wrong. 😊

Responding

MEMORISING QUOTATIONS

An effective strategy for memorising quotes is to use flash cards or palm cards.

Write or type the full quote on a flashcard, and then put a few key words on the other side.

Practise memorising the quotation on the card, recalling the missing words as you rehearse the quote.  Test yourself regularly.

Then, gradually reduce the key words each day until you can remember the entire quote off by heart.

This is a GREAT strategy because you are forcing your memory to RECALL the missing words which means it works a little better than just reading the quotes over and over and over.

Run through the flashcards 3 or 4 times a day. Give the cards to a friend or family member and ask them to test you.

The full quote is on the back of the flashcard, so they can tell you if you’re on track and prompt you if you need it.

Before you know it, you’ve memorised 10 quotations – and you should feel damn proud!  Nice job! 😊

Comprehending, Responding

How to avoid QUOTE-DUMPING

One of the skills you need to have by the time you reach Year 12 is the ability to WEAVE evidence into your sentences and paragraphs to support your arguments or assertions.

Some students struggle to do this, especially when using quotations, and often just “dump” them in as a standalone sentence with speech marks around it.  Hence, quote-dumping.

Actually, there is a really EASY way around it.  Just use these 3 little words – IN THE TEXT

  • In the text it says “we will never surrender.”
  • In the text, the narrator says that “the clocks were striking thirteen” and that “bombs were falling daily”.
  • In the text, Offred says “I am a container.”
  • In the text, Professor Skywalker tells us that “On the 2011 census 64,390 Australians put "Jedi" down as their religion, compared to 58,053 on the 2006 census.”
  • In the text, Janet Offenbosch states that “nearly 30kg of plastic was found inside the belly of a juvenile sperm whale washed in Spain last month.”

Bish, bash, bosh.  Easy peasy!  And might even help you with some of your other subjects too!  🙂

Comprehending, Responding

SHORTENING QUOTATIONS so they are easier to memorise

When writing essays about novels, short stories, plays, expository texts etc in the Responding Section of your ATAR English exam, it’s NECESSARY provide quotations to support your arguments and ideas.

Ideally, you should probably choose about 10-15 quotations.

Make sure the ones you select can be used for a variety of topics  e.g. one quotation could be used for a discussion on character or idea or perspective.  This way, you don’t have to memorise loads of quotes!

Be picky / fussy / choosy about which parts of the quotation you need.

Here’s an example to show you what I mean 😊

In 1984 by George Orwell, the minor character Syme can be considered to represent how the citizens of Airstrip One have become desensitised to violence and lost their humanity.

Here’s a good quote that shows this:

“It was a good hanging,” said Syme reminiscently.  “I think it spoils it when they tie their feet together. I like to see them kicking. And above all, at the end, the tongue sticking right out, and blue - a quite bright blue. That’s the detail that appeals to me.”

BUT, this quote is very LOOOONG.  Personally, I could never remember 10 quotations if they were all this long!

SO BE CLEVER!  Use ellipses to show the marker that you have cut some words out as a way of shortening the quote.  BUT - and this is very important - don’t lose the MEANING of your quotation!

Here’s how we would shorten the quote above:

“It was a good hanging… I like to see them kicking… and the tongue sticking right out, and blue… That’s the detail that appeals to me.”

It's MUCH EASIER to remember and Syme’s attitude towards the public hangings is still clear.  Perfect!

So how exactly do you commit these quotations to memory?  Keep an eye out over the next week or two for some strategies 😊